a mile a day keeps the doctor away

It’s very nearly spring, but in the spirit of moving forward, I’m giving convention the middle finger, and I am proposing a new year’s resolution. This late in the game, you may ask, but to paraphrase some saccharine sentiment, it’s never too late for a new start. And so here I embark upon this new task: run a mile a day everyday until I graduate from medical school.

It’s recently come to my attention that Mark Zuckerberg entertained a similar notion at the outset of 2016, except it was not a personal resolution, but a sententious public health PSA which was made all the worse by photo-ops of his heel-strike running.

As a runner, I would not recommend this trivial pursuit to merely anyone. It’s not a tall order for those who run relatively regularly, albeit not daily. But those who are unfamiliar with the sport would be better suited to beginning a walking program, and easing into running.

Why a mile a day? 

Apart from the droll appropriation of the old adage, I have found that in consideration of various factors including my age, injury history, time constraints, and dwindling motivation at the end of a demoralizing day on the wards, a mile is quite literally the perfect distance.

Which brings me to why novice runners should start with a walk/run mix. I’ve endured many injuries over the past 15 years I’ve been running, but in the past year, I have endured recurrent runner’s knee, as well as an 8 week recovery period from achilles tendinitis at the beginning of 2016, extensor tendinitis earlier this year, and a stress fracture scare. The runner’s knee is mostly a product of my impatience to adopt the 10% rule when it comes to increasing weekly mileage; hitherto, I’ve never observed it and never had any problems, but 17, I am no longer. I am quite swiftly approaching 27, and as such, my knees and asphalt no longer have such a great rapport, and I do ofttimes wonder whether I’ll ever feel well enough to run without sporting an orange patellar tendon strap on my left knee. But alas, such is life.

A few months ago, I thought I would have to come to terms with the reality that I may never run on a daily basis again, but have since resolved, instead of running 2 or 3 miles at a time 3 or 4 times a week–which invariably never happens because of time constraints and the fact that I’m frequently too damn ravenous when I return home in the evening to run for half an hour–I should run a mile every day. It’s short enough that I can’t convince myself not to do it before stuffing my face, or before embarking upon a morning of studying, and it’s long enough for me to break a sweat and burn some calories; it was after all, my event in track and field. It is a regrettable paradox that I’ve always been great at sprinting but loathed it, and been lousy at distance and loved it, but I digress.

I’ve been running since age 11; I’m not particularly certain whether it was love at first (ball of foot) strike of the pavement, but I quickly came to find that running had a meditative quality for me. Growing up in a household with a Buddhist mother and Catholic father, meditation and religious ceremony was needlessly tedious for my ADHD brain. My neurochemistry simply would not permit breathing meditation as recreation. But fortunately, I found running. As an ADHD little girl, I was quick to quit anything that did not suit me, ballet, soccer, basketball, clarinet, piano, guitar, ukulele, et cetera; yet running remains one of the few things I’ve ever remained committed to through all these years. Although perhaps one day I will sit down and learn to properly play the piano.

My commitment to running, I attribute to its singular meditative quality, and the fact that it is largely, albeit not exclusively, a solitary sport, and as an extroverted introvert, I am inherently, albeit not exclusively, a solitary person. I am a Bay Area born and raised multi-racial woman of color in my third year of attendance at a medical school in the Northeastern United States. It’s all part and parcel of the sacrifices we make to become physicians. Running has helped me keep my shit together all these years; it has quite literally kept me sane. Perhaps a title more apropos would be “a mile a day keeps the psychiatrist away.”


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